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Sugar: Is it more exciting than doing Shakespeare?
Megan: It's very different.
Ashley: The improvisation is very exciting as a basis for any kind of
Carolyn: When I started I thought: "Yes! This
is why I wanted to act." When you're small you play in your
room, pretending to be someone. And then you study at drama school and you
forget about that because you've got a script and this is how the characters are supposed to be. You forget how to play because it becomes methodical.
Sugar: With "real theatre" you're given a script and you've got a
couple of months to learn how to do the same thing every single night.
Does this help you?
Adrian: That is one of the
most important things you learn from Theatre Sports: to keep alive
in the moment.
Megan: It broadens your choices. You'll get a
scenario from the audience and you've got no idea how it's going to manifest itself. I think when you have scripts in front of you, you see there's a potential for you to be 30 different varieties of that character, so it opens choices for you that often are slightly more closed. It doesn't mean you will be more successful -- it just means you can be more exploratory.
David: I have done about 34 plays and I've just recently done a Theatre
Sports course. Having done 34 plays by the age of 34 does not mean that you
can just go into Theatre Sports and be fabulous because you do have to train.
Sugar: Tell me something about the course.
David: Basically the course is about 5 weeks and people who do the
course meet once a week.
Megan: The games are basically teaching you improvisational and Theatre
Sports skills, so the games are used in order for actors to learn things like
blocking, which means no one is ever allowed to
say "no" on stage. If I say, "Did you see that three-legged alien
getting into the taxi downstairs?" you can't say "no". You must say "yes" because if you say "no" that is the end.
Sugar: Are there moments when you freeze and can't go further?
Carolyn: (Laughing) If someone could watch all our shows -- and there are people who do see a lot of them -- they will say, "Ah, yes that show is much better," or, "This is the best show I've seen." If you bring one person who has
never seen Theatre Sports and they watch a bad show, according to us,
they will love it. But they can come to those shows that are actually brilliant
and they'll go, "Yes, this is so much better than that."
Megan: They don't know that part of the audience's enjoyment is to see
the actors struggle.
Adrian: It also gets to the measure of credibility because often we have
people coming and saying, "You've worked out the
music and you've worked out a story line (in advance)." When you do struggle it gives proof of what we are doing because people always want proof of what they are seeing, that you are actually playing in the moment and you must free yourself and you don't know where you are going.
Carolyn: There is a game where they give you a sentence that you have to
incorporate in a scene somewhere. They can be the most obscure things. Everybody else has said their sentences and you think, "What IS my sentence?" and nobody else will remember so they can't give you a clue. That's hysterical to watch. Or even if you play 'Alphabet' and the first person begins a sentence with the letter A and the next with the letter B and it continues like that. You will be amazed at how many times we don't know our alphabet.
Sugar: Where were doing Theatre Sports before you took it to the Nico's On The Side venue?
Megan: At the Green Room above the Purple Turtle.
We've been at a hundred different venues but now we're at the Nico
Sugar: Are the audiences bigger at the Nico?
Megan: The venue has a bigger capacity but it's going to take a while
because it is winter now and people don't want to go out. But it's definitely
grown in terms of audience numbers and people knowing about it.
Ashley: Three years ago if you asked people if they'd played Theatre Sports they would say, "What?!" Now they will say they've seen it or heard of it or their mother's seen it.
Ashley: It's quite a bold move for the Nico because seldom if ever
has a fringe show moved to what the theatre public
regards as a major venue.
Carolyn: But it's still fringe theatre as it's tables and chairs and
get your own drinks.
Sugar: Is the main element of these shows humour? It's not just
umprovising -- it's like improvising funnily and that adds a whole different element to
what you are doing. Are you all naturally funny?
Megan: I think the humour is fun. There are times when the
people come up with a one-liner that will floor you or there will
genuinely be some truly comic moments but I think the
humour actually comes out of the bizarreness or the strangeness of the
placement and how seriously we take ourselves.
David: The scenarios of the games themselves are funny because of the
suggestions coming from the audience -- the obscure suggestions in
whatever location or style a certain game has to be played out.
Megan: But the other thing is that the audience also gets
enormous satisfaction when scenes are not funny, when they can see that we are not 'funny-driven'.
Carolyn: Although it is easier to do a funny scene than a serious scene, it's very difficult to make the audience not laugh.
Megan: But at the same time you can have an audience of really smiling
faces where they are not hysterical because they are really enjoying it
and appreciating it and it's not that funny.
Ashley: For humour to work there is always the element of truth.
And the moment that happens on stage - when you've got these
jokes flying around with that element of truth -- you've got incredible
Megan: The other thing is that the trap we all fall into,
which is delightful for the audience, is we do choose the tricks. I mean, at least once in a show I get to use my stock characters. (Adopts accent) "I play a traffic cop."
Adrian: I do the Russian.
David: One has these safety zones where one resorts to playing a certain type of character.
I tend to go for the villainous type of vampire. And we won't talk about
Carolyn's toilet humour!
Interview by STEPHEN 'SUGAR' SEGERMAN
please mail stephen and tell us what you think of the group (if you've seen their show),
or tell us about the page and what you think of the lager mentality interviews so far.
NOTE: Theatre Sports is performed at the Nico On The Side every Monday and Thursday from 8.30pm. Tickets are R15 (students R10).
now you can go back to Alive or you can check out the previous lager mentality interview with the Honeymoon Suites.